One month ago today, my father went peacefully home to our heavenly Father, exactly three months shy of his 102nd birthday. I was at his side and his going was so gentle and peaceful — it was a privilege to be there. Many things can be said — he had a long life, a happy life for the most part, he worked hard to give his children things he and my mom felt we should have — piano lessons, road trips to interesting places, driver’s licences, school band trips, a Christian upbringing, and even an opportunity to visit South America when he worked there for two years with the parent company of his, the American Can Company. There were many wonderful opportunities and marvellous memories.
Despite the loss of my mother to leukemia at an early age (not quite 47), he weathered the storm and found another love to share his life with, and had a wonderful 44 years of marriage with her. When she passed away a little more than 3 years ago, Dad found it very hard. At 99, he was living alone the only time in his life with the exception of part of the time he was in Barranquilla, Colombia. My younger brother moved in with him to help him be less lonely. Dad gave up his driver’s licence and got a scooter which he loved to use to go to the “Scottish restaurant” — MacDonalds. The management of the condo building he lived in had to caution him about his speed driving up the approach ramp to the building. He always did like driving fast.
Despite the fact that he was a blue collar worker — he left school to help his family during the depression and took work first as an office boy, then as an apprentice — he always read the newspaper cover to cover and became interested in investments. He very quickly learned to discern what stocks were going to do well, which paid good dividends, when to buy preferred shares, and he tracked it all in little daytimer year books. The result was that in his retirement he was able to live comfortably, and eventually enjoy the community of Amica at Dundas where he began to need extra care given by a wonderful staff who enjoyed his good humour and joyful attitude. He would enter the dining room each morning singing, “O what a beautiful morning, everything’s heading my way!” He greeted each morning with, “This is the day the Lord hath made, Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad in it!”
Dad’s favourite Bible passage was John 14. He memorized it as a small boy visiting Ireland and there was hardly a day he didn’t recite it in his last years at Amica. Often, people would ask him to repeat it and enter into a discussion with him about it. He became a little missionary to the folk there and he will be missed by many of them, although not as much as by his family.
A friend tells me I have to get used to my “new normal”. There are times when it isn’t easy. I reach for the phone in the evening to place that call to him, and when my budgie sits talking to me, I think about how Dad would listen to him chattering while we were on the phone and how he wished I could bring him when I came to visit. But the trip was too long for a little bird in a car.
I’ve been off the grid here at my Bookshelf for the last month but am starting to feel ready to get back into the swing. I have a few reviews I wrote a while ago but didn’t polish and publish — that will get me started, and hopefully, the routine will help me with my “new normal”. I’ve missed reading — both books here on the shelf and the blogs I usually follow — but am slowly picking it up again. I know I will see my Dad again and that he had that certainty of salvation that to be ‘absent from the body is to be present with the Lord’. I’m going to add a few of my favourite pictures here of my Dad, Thomas George Montgomery (June 19, 1914 – March 19, 2016).